Keith ‘Beefy’ Murray
Growing up I watched a lot of rugby on television and my interest grew through junior school at Springvale School in Marondera. When it came to senior school I went to Falcon College one of the best if not the best schoolboy rugby playing schools in the country. My rugby skills were honed and refined at Falcon College through the age groups system and every boys dream was to be a Maddog( a member of the rugby first team). I worked my way into the first team and in my final year in 2005 I played in one of Falcons most invincible teams ever and we beat all and sundry in the country and went unbeaten. Five of the Falcon College boys were selected into the Zimbabwe craven week team coached by the legendary Godwin ‘Jaws’ Murambiwa my final. I was also made co captain for the Craven Week team of 2005.
After I finished school I still wanted to continue to play rugby and develop my game and in 2006 I joined the IRANZ Academy in New Zealand. Two springboks players Frans Steyn and Devon Reubenheimer were a part of our squad and numerous other future international stars. In the same year I also played Provincial U20 rugby for Wairarapa Bush Province in the Hurricanes U20 championships while also representing a club called Martinborough RFC. In 2007 I had a brief stint playing rugby in the UK while I was still waiting for my New Zealand visa to be processed. My visa was approved towards the end of the season and I returned to Wellington, New Zealand and found a home at the Hutt Old Marist Boys Rugby club. I turned out for Hutt Old Boys from 2007 to 2011 where we played in the Wellington League and in the Heartland Championship. In 2012, I joined the wider Super squad at the Lions in Johannesburg and I was contracted during the 2012 Currie Cup. I also turned out for Roodepoort Rugby club in the Community Cup.
In December of 2012 The Zimbabwe Sables were going on an outgoing tour to Dubai and I was selected to join the Sables and I got my First cap for the Sables vs Hong Kong in Dubai 2012. I played two other tests against Belgium and United Arab Emirates. On coming back from the Dubai tour I was contracted to the Lions for the 2013 season for the Vodacom Cup. In June of 2013 I earned further Sables caps as we took part in the Africa Cup in Madagascar and also went on tour to Namibia to play Kenya and Namibia. At the end of the 2013 season I joined the most professional rugby team in the country, Old Georgians RUFC where I found seasoned internationals such as Jacques Leitao, Grant Mitchell among others who helped me ease into the club. Old Georgians went unbeaten in the National Rugby League only to lose in the NRL final to Old Hararians Rugby Club in a nail biting final.
2014 was to be the heartbreaking year, when the proud people of Zimbabwe , through the Sables missed qualification for the 2015 World Cup by a whisker. The near miss was heart wrenching and devastating for me and all the players. I worked hard to regain my confidence to don the green and white hooped jersey again. For the rest of the year I played club rugby for Old Georgians and even tried new positions in the rugby team by playing as a Centre. The World Cup year 2015 was a year of self reflection for me and reinvigoration. I spent 2015 enjoying just playing again and spent the season playing Centre and a few games at flyhalf. In reflection having a more relaxed approach in 2015 most certainly gave me the fire back to want to get back in the hooped green and white jersey. It helped me realize personal ambitions mean nothing in comparison to a teams ambition. I was to come back strong in 2016 and 2017 turning out for Old Georgians RUFC in the National Rugby League and the RSA Gold Cup. I got another call up to play for the Sables in the Africa Cup in 2016. In 2018 I Broke my leg playing in the annual Bangkok 10s tournament for the Jam Boys hence I missed most of the season only to return at the end of the season and continue with Old Georgians. In 2019 I got the call up to the Sables and the Zimbabwe Academy. The Zimbabwe Academy took part in the South African Supersport Challenge. A lot of lessons were learnt at the challenge and the team took the lessons learnt to the Victoria Cup, a cup that we won after several years of trying.
Growing up I had watched a lot of the rugby stars, and idolized a few of the All Black players Kevin Mealamu, Richie McCaw and Dan Carter and Jonah Lomu, that is why I left Zimbabwe to go and play in New Zealand but , moving back to Africa from New Zealand gave me a sense of belonging and a pride in Zimbabwe rugby and it was about such a time when I started following some of the Zimbabwean players and admiring them. Jacques Leitao and Danny Hondo were senior playing figures I looked up to a lot. They helped me navigate the system of play in Zimbabwe and I truly felt welcome back at home and I realized that we have the talent to face the giants of world rugby and I so want to be part of the solution and bring smiles to the multitudes of Zimbabwe Rugby followers and lovers by qualifying for the 2023 World Cup
Qualifying for the 2023 World Cup is at the Centre of any players heart. I’m reaching the later stages of my career and I wish to help get Zimbabwe to another World Cup and that would be extremely special especially after we got so close in 2014. The growth of rugby in smaller communities is also in my ambitions and one day after my career is over I hope to build community rugby programs in areas totally unfamiliar with rugby. I honestly feel that once we have qualified for the World Cup the image of rugby in this sports starved nation will be changed forever. I just hope I can play some part whatever that is to get us there. It’s difficult to find any positives during such an uncertain period however the time for the body to rest and really prepare could be just one small positive to take out of this pandemic.
The year 2020 was poised to be a good year for both club and country but the Covid-19 pandemic dealt us all a tough hand with cancellations and postponements of leagues and major competitions. In this Covid time I want to urge fellow rugby players to stay safe and observe all the WHO guidelines to curtail the further spread of the virus. It is every persons responsibility to keep themselves and those around them safe. Let us all be our brothers keeper during this time.
Your Sables: My Sables: Our Sables.